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Prayers & Devotions

The Holy Family
Jesus, Mary & Joseph

Feast Day
Sunday within the Octave of Christmas

Sunday After Christmas

When a Sunday does not occur between December 25 and January 1, this feast is celebrated on December 30 with only one reading before the Gospel.


The Holy Family - h h hitchcock (pencil)

Venerunt pastores festinantes, et invenerunt Mariam et Joseph et Infantem positum in praesepio (Luke 2:16)

The shepherds hastened to Bethlehem, where they found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. (Luke 2:16 - Entrance Antiphon)

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Collect for the Feast of the Holy Family
Scripture Readings
Pope John Paul II's prayer for the Family - 2004
Prayers for the Blessing of a Child, for a Happy Marriage
Directory of Popular Piety | Catechism of the Catholic Church
Church Documents on the Family | "Familiaris Consortio On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World'

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Collect:

O God, who were pleased to give us
the shining example of the Holy Family,
graciously grant that we may imitate them
in practicing the virtues of family life and in the bonds of charity,
and so, in the joy of your house,
delight one day in eternal rewards.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. +Amen.

Readings for Mass:
RSV-CE translation

First Reading: Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 3: 2-7, 12-14
For the Lord honored the father above the children,
and He confirmed the right of the mother over her sons.
Whoever honors his father atones for sins,
and whoever glorifies his mother
is like one who lays up treasure.
Whoever honors his father will be gladdened by his own children,
and when he prays he will be heard.
Whoever glorifies his father will have long life,
and whoever obeys the Lord will refresh his mother;
he will serve his parents as his masters.

O son, help your father in his old age,
and do not grieve him as long as he lives;
even if he is lacking in understanding, show forbearance;
in all your strength do not despise him.
For kindness to a father will not be forgotten,
and against your sins it will be credited to you.

OR 1 Sm 1:20-22, 24-28
Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, "I have asked him of the LORD." And the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the LORD the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the LORD, and abide there for ever."

And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine; and she brought him to the house of the LORD at Shiloh; and the child was young. Then they slew the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. And she said, "Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD has granted me my petition which I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD." And they worshiped the LORD there.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 84:2-3, 5-6, 9-10

R. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.

My soul longs, yea, faints for the courts of the LORD;
my heart and flesh sing for joy to the living God.
Even the sparrow finds a home,
and the swallow a nest for herself,
where she may lay her young, at thy altars,
O LORD of hosts, my King and my God.

R. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.

5 Blessed are the men whose strength is in thee,
in whose heart are the highways to Zion.
6 As they go through the valley of Baca they make it a place of springs;
the early rain also covers it with pools.

R. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.

9 Behold our shield, O God;
look upon the face of thine anointed!
10 For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand elsewhere.
I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God
than dwell in the tents of wickedness.

R. Blessed are they who dwell in your house, O Lord.

Second Reading: Col 3:12-21
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

OR Col 3:12-17
Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

OR 1 John 3:1-2,21-24

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.

Gospel Reading - Matthew 2:13-15, 19-23

Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and His mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy Him." And he rose and took the child and His mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt have I called My Son."

But when Herod died, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, "Rise, take the child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the child's life are dead." And he rose and took the child and His mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus reigned over Judea in place of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream he withdrew to the district of Galilee. And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, "He shall be called a Nazarene."

Pope John Paul II - Prayer from Angelus Message for the Feast of the Holy Family 2004

"May the Holy Family, who had to overcome many painful trials, watch over all the families in the world, especially those who are experiencing difficult situations. May the Holy Family also help men and women of culture and political leaders so that they may defend the institution of the family, based on marriage, and so that they may sustain the family as it confronts the grave challenges of the modern age!

"During this Year of the Eucharist may Christian families find the light and strength to be united and to grow as the 'domestic church' especially in their diligent participation in the celebration of the Eucharist on Sunday.

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The Scripture readings for the Feast of the Holy Family show the love between Mary, Joseph and Jesus, and also tell the mystery of the Incarnate God subjecting Himself to the authority of His earthly parents. Parents might offer a special blessing prayer for their children or for their marriage on this feast. Two such prayers are below:

The Blessing of a Child
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the Living God, who came to earth as an infant and thus sanctified childhood, pour the graces of thy blessing upon [Name], thy child, being mindful of the faith and devotion of the Church and of us, his {her} parents; so that, growing in virtue and wisdom before God and men, [Name] may attain a blessed old age and enjoy eternal salvation: Who livest and reignest forever and ever Amen.

A Prayer for a Happy Marriage
Lord Jesus Christ, who by thy presence at the wedding feast at Cana didst bless the state of Holy Matrimony; and by thy love and favor hath raised marriage to the dignity of a sacrament: Grant that we may be ever faithful to the marriage vows that we nave pledged. May all that we do bring us to greater love for each other and for thee. May no act of ours be unworthy in thy sight. May we never forget the ends for which matrimony has been instituted. And especially may we never, through selfishness, defile ourselves and our unity in mutual love by any action displeasing to thee. Teach us to trust in thy gracious mercy. May we gratefully receive children, and train and guide them with wise responsibility in the knowledge of thy love. Grant us the spiritual and temporal means to raise these children according to thy will. And may we worthily receive thy grace and favor through the sacramental bond of marriage. May every expression of our love for one another be united to our love for thee. Who livest and reignest forever and ever. Amen.
(Adapted from Mother's Manual, by A. Francis Comes, S.J., William J. Hirten Co., Inc., 1984)



From the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy

The Feast of the Holy Family

112. The feast of the holy family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph (Sunday in the Christmas octave) is a festive occasion particularly suitable for the celebration of rites or moments of prayer proper to the Christian family. The recollection of Joseph, Mary and Jesus' going up to Jerusalem, together with other observant Jewish families, for the celebration of the Passover (cf. Lk 2:41-42), should normally encourage a positive acceptance of the pastoral suggestion that all members of the family attend Mass on this day. This feast day also affords an opportunity for the renewal of our entrustment to the patronage of the Holy Family of Nazareth(120); the blessing of children as provided in the ritual(121); and where opportune, for the renewal of marriage vows taken by the spouses on their wedding day, and also for the exchange of promises between those engaged to be married in which they formalize their desire to found a new Christian family(122).

Outside of the feast, the faithful have frequent recourse to the Holy Family of Nazareth in many of life's circumstances: joining the Association of the Holy Family so as to model their own families on the Holy Family of Nazareth(123); frequent prayers to entrust themselves to the patronage of the Holy Family and to obtain assistance at the hour of death(124).


From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
533 The hidden life at Nazareth allows everyone to enter into fellowship with Jesus by the most ordinary events of daily life:

The home of Nazareth is the school where we begin to understand the life of Jesus - the school of the Gospel. First, then, a lesson of silence. May esteem for silence, that admirable and indispensable condition of mind, revive in us. . . A lesson on family life. May Nazareth teach us what family life is, its communion of love, its austere and simple beauty, and its sacred and inviolable character... A lesson of work. Nazareth, home of the "Carpenter's Son", in you I would choose to understand and proclaim the severe and redeeming law of human work. . . To conclude, I want to greet all the workers of the world, holding up to them their great pattern their brother who is God.

534 The finding of Jesus in the temple is the only event that breaks the silence of the Gospels about the hidden years of Jesus. Here Jesus lets us catch a glimpse of the mystery of his total consecration to a mission that flows from his divine sonship: "Did you not know that I must be about my Father's work?" Mary and Joseph did not understand these words, but they accepted them in faith. Mary "kept all these things in her heart" during the years Jesus remained hidden in the silence of an ordinary life.




Church Documents on Families

"Twenty years since 'Familiaris Consortio': The Anthropological and Pastoral Dimension" -- Pontifical Council for the Family Conclusions of the Theological-Pastoral Congress (December 20, 2001)

Message on Familiaris Consortio -- 20th Anniversary (November 22, 2001)

Preparation for the Sacrament of Marriage -- Pontifical Council for the Family (May 13, 1996)

The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality -- Guidelines for Education within the Family - Pontifical Council for the Family (December 8, 1995)

The Pastoral Care of the Family -- Message to Pontifical Council on the Family 1992

Charter of the Rights of the Family -- Pontifical Council on the Family (1983)

Familiaris Consortio -- On the Christian Family - Apostolic Exhortation, 1981



Familiaris Consortio -- on the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World by Helen Hull Hitchcock (Nov 1, 2001)

Go to the Article Index for more on the Family!

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